South Korea beats UAE 2-0 in World Cup qualifier

World Cup regular South Korea was closer to booking a spot in

Asia’s fourth and final round of qualifiers for Brazil 2014 with a

hard-fought 2-0 win over United Arab Emirates on Friday.

Lee Keun-ho and captain Park Chu-young scored late second-half

goals to keep the unbeaten Koreans on top of Group B after four

matches.

South Korea beat UAE 2-1 at home a month ago, but didn’t expect

as hard a match as it got on Friday.

The visitors didn’t break the deadlock until four minutes were

left, when Lee sidefooted into an open net. Then Park slid into the

goalmouth to bundle the ball across the line in the second minute

of injury time.

Coach Rae Chong-kwang saluted his men for taking full points

against a determined UAE.

”It was unexpectedly difficult, but our players showed their

will and motivation,” Rae said.

”I will keep the team intact until the end of our stay in the

Middle East (when they face Lebanon on Tuesday).

”In the first half we focused on stabilizing our defense and

midfield, and that’s why we didn’t venture deeper into their half,

but in the second half we changed our tactics and it worked

well.”

UAE came up with the first chance of the match but captain

Subait Khater was a tad late in pulling the trigger from the edge

of the area in the 7th minute.

Park missed a great opportunity on 19 minutes after a

counterattack allowed him to go clear with just UAE goalkeeper

Majed Naser to beat. Park, though, hesitated and Basheer Saeed

raced back to regain possession for the hosts.

Soon after, Saeed was shot straight at South Korea goalkeeper

Jung Sung-ryong from a 25-meter free kick, and Mohammed Ahmed

missed for the home side after a free kick left him open to shoot

in the 35th.

UAE midfielder Ali Abbas nearly scored an own goal when his

glancing header threatened to go in before it was cleared by Fares

Juma with five minutes to play in the first half.

South Korea returned stronger after the break and won an early

free kick that was fired wide by Hong Chul, but at the other end

Ismail Al Hammadi swivelled and half-volleyed high from close range

for UAE.

Mohammed Ahmed pushed over Park in the box from behind, but the

referee ignored pleas from South Korea for a penalty. The Koreans

eventually came through at the very end.